That’s what it came down to. Every Major League Soccer team has played 33 games (except for the four in action on Wednesday, who played 32) and decision day is upon us (Stream Sunday’s games on ESPN+). The Supporter Shield was awarded, as was the Wooden Spoon.
Nine out of 14 playoff spots are taken and nine teams have a chance to grab the remaining five. That means MLS is nice and orderly and still teetering on the brink of chaos – just how we like it.
The East is tasty because five teams are playing for three places and four of them compete on Wednesday. The possibilities are endless. The west is much more straightforward, but no less scary. The Portland Timbers play Real Salt Lake and Minnesota United host the Vancouver Whitecaps – the winners advance to the playoffs.
Who’s ready to get rowdy? But before we dive into decision day and fixate on “the lineage,” let’s place them all in 2022 for the last time.
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Previous placement: 3
Next MLS game: vs. Nashville, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
95 minutes: Denis Bouanga against the entire Timbers defence. Winner: Bouanga. Supporters’ Shield and a moment that will forever live on in MLS lore: that of LAFC.
Denis Bouanga scores last-second goal as LAFC beats Portland 2-1
Previous placement: 1
Next MLS game: vs. Toronto, Sunday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
There’s no way to explain Philly being completely searched by Charlotte, so let’s assume they got distracted by all the football lines on the field and move on.
Previous placement: 2
Next MLS game: vs. Inter Miami, Sunday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Don’t look now, but Montreal could be the front runner in the East after beating DC without Djordje Mihailovic and Romell Quioto. And seriously, don’t look. That’s how Wilfried Nancy and Co like it.
Previous placement: 4
Next MLS game: vs. Colorado, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Losing in Vancouver means they’ve won just one of their last six. There’s not a lot of evidence that momentum carries over to the playoffs in any meaningful way, but they’d probably prefer to go into the playoffs with something resembling decent form.
Previous placement: 5
Next MLS game: vs. Sporting Kansas City, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Losing to Colorado doesn’t matter much if they get a result on the final day to secure a home playoff game, but they have yet to get that point.
Previous placement: 6
Next MLS game: vs. LAFC, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
NSC has just six home wins this season, the fewest in the West, so we have to ask: is GEODIS Park cursed? After Hany Mukhtar’s long-range shot at an open goal went wide when he rebounded too hard off the pitch and hit the crossbar, resulting in a loss to Houston, the resounding answer is yes.
Previous placement: 7
Next MLS game: vs. Charlotte, Sunday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Seattle’s remarkable playoff streak is over, but RBNY’s is not. Despite losing to Columbus at the weekend, this is the 13th straight year the Red Bulls have played postseason football.
Previous placement: 10
Next MLS game: vs. Real Salt Lake, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
They played fairly evenly against LAFC and were struck by a moment of magic, but that won’t be much consolation if they lose at Salt Lake next week and watch the postseason from home. There are no more moral victories, so that was just an (admittedly tough) loss.
Previous placement: 11
Next MLS game: vs. DC United, Sunday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Congratulations to those Cincy fans who broke their three-year stranglehold on the wooden spoon. They might even celebrate with a playoff spot, but their home loss to the Fire won’t help.
Previous placement: 13
Next MLS game: vs. Charlotte, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
The crew were minutes away from seeing their season practically over, but Derrick Etienne gave them the revival with goals in the 89th and 93rd minutes in a 2-1 win over RBNY. Now they just need to win a second straight game for the first time this season.
Derrick Etienne scores twice to lead the Columbus Crew to a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls.
Previous placement: 10
Next MLS game: vs. Inter Miami, Wednesday 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Their loss to NYCFC means they can end the season against Miami and Columbus with a single win that puts them in the playoffs. Control your destiny and mulligan? The lions would have liked to have taken over that in February.
Previous placement: 2
Next MLS game: vs. Portland Timbers, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
There’s a good chance the difference between RSL making the playoffs and watching them from their couches is two unmarked headers in Saturday’s injury time in the six-yard box. You missed them both, lost to the galaxy and will spend the next four months thinking about them.
Previous placement: 14
Next MLS game: vs. Orlando City, Wednesday 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Does Gonzalo Higuain – who will retire at the end of the season – only have two games left in his career or can Inter extend it with one or four post-season games? After scoring late in the last 14 games to beat Toronto with his 12th goal, it seems like he’s sure to want to play a little longer.
Previous placement: fifteen
Next MLS game: vs. Houston Dynamo, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
The Galaxy absolutely deserved to beat RSL, and it absolutely didn’t deserve to beat RSL either. It doesn’t make sense, but if you’ve seen them both dominate and also miss a penalty and almost concede the game at the end, you get it. But they secured a place in the playoffs that they totally deserved and totally didn’t deserve.
Previous placement: 16
Next MLS game: vs. Dallas, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
After months of watching teams’ dreams turn to post-season nightmares at Children’s Mercy Park, it was only fitting that the Sounders’ playoff series was officially ended by SKC.
Previous placement: 9
Next MLS game: vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
The loons weren’t hit by the tremors – they were smoked. And now they’ve picked up just one point from their last six games, leaving them with a decision-day loss after a historic meltdown that keeps them out of the playoffs. All that stands between them and disgrace is 90 minutes at home against a Whitecaps team that has won two games away all season.
Previous placement: 18
Next MLS game: vs. Minnesota United, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Ah yes, the Whitecaps – a not very good team that’s kind of one win away from a playoff spot after beating Austin. On the one hand, the game away from Vancouver, where the caps were lazy. On the other hand, it’s against Minnesota, who have been terrible for weeks no matter where they play. And one of those teams has to make it to the playoffs!
Previous placement: 21
Next MLS game: vs. Columbus Crew, Wednesday 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Charlotte just wanted to be important in Year 1 and while that might not have been how they envisioned it, Daniel Rios, who scored four points to eliminate the red-hot Philly from the Supporters’ Shield, doesn’t give a damn. Plus, they’re still kind of alive for a playoff spot.
Previous placement: 23
Next MLS game: vs. Atlanta United, Sunday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Knock Knock. Who’s there? NYCFC. Don’t look now, but the pigeons are alive! They beat Orlando for their second straight win and it looks like they have a pulse going into the postseason.
Previous placement: 17
Next MLS game: vs. Philadelphia Union, Sunday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
It’s no surprise that TFC is struggling. Your side lack the balance to be friendly but are ruled out at home by Miami for their second straight game without a goal? That’s surprising.
Previous placement: 22
Next MLS game: vs. Austin, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
They beat Dallas for their 10th home win of the season, the second highest in the West. If only they could have won more than one away game.
Previous placement: 19
Next MLS game: vs. San Jose Earthquakes, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
The Sounders are officially not going to the playoffs after drawing Cincy and losing to SKC. For the first time since joining MLS, their season ends early and, perhaps even more incredible, they will play their first inconsequential game next weekend. 14 years of exclusively meaningful football is an insane run.
William Agada scored his eighth goal in nine games on Sunday as hosts Sporting Kansas City defeated Seattle Sounders FC 1-0.
Previous placement: 22
Next MLS game: vs. Chicago Fire, Sunday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Lesson learned from their win against Atlanta: It’s good when Gustavo Bou does things.
Previous placement: 20
Next MLS game: vs. NYCFC, Sunday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
It’s a shame Josef Martínez didn’t save his daring overhead kick for the finals because if that’s what he’s doing in Atlanta, he deserves to leave the Five Stripes with a goal like that in front of his adoring fans. It was also a little too flashy that it ended in a 2-1 defeat.
Previous placement: 25
Next MLS game: vs. LA Galaxy, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
After a win in Nashville, Dynamo have now played sovereign football for five weeks. Her season was long over, but that’s not nothing.
Previous placement: 26
Next MLS game: vs. Seattle Sounders, Sunday 5 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
The Quakes wish almost everything had gone differently in 2022, but Shea Salinas scored in his last-ever home game? That’s exactly what should happen in a win over the Loons.
Previous placement: 27
Next MLS game: vs. New England Revolution, Sunday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
If you’re forced to play a disappointing season, it’s a good way to deal a serious blow to Cincy behind the performances of young stars Jhon Duran and Brian Gutierrez.
Previous placement: 28
Next MLS game: vs. Cincinnati, Sunday 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Historic DC United’s trophy cabinet grew with the loss to Montreal. You are officially a wooden spoon winner!
https://www.espn.com/soccer/major-league-soccer/story/4760596/mls-power-rankings-lafc-at-top-and-wins-supporters-shield MLS Power Rankings – LAFC at top and wins Supporters Shield